Unknown

The book was the key. He had found it by accident in an old shop in Madrid and now he had him. 25 years of searching and there he was in the apartment opposite. He had seen his shadow behind the drawn curtains but had never seen him face to face.

He fingered the text and memorised the words. It would be all that would save him when the confrontation came. He pressed the cross against his heart and squeezed it tightly.

‘Guide me, oh lord in thy deeds and protect me in my hour of need.’

He kissed the red book and imbibed its smell of musty leather. He placed the water bottle in his cloak, pulled up his hood and slipped into his shoes.

He opened the windows letting the sea breezes waft through the building. He looked out and could see his friend working on the pavement below. He was drawing the shape of cobbles, looking every bit like a local workman. But he too had terror in his eyes and pulled the wooden stake closer to him.

He walked slowly down the stairs and crossed the alleyway. The light was on in the man’s apartment. He knew that he never slept. He climbed quietly up the stairs and approached the door. He knocked gently. There was no reply. He tried again, holding the bottle tightly. Still there was no reply. Then he heard it. That haunting scream, the sound of footsteps and then silence. He ran down the steps into the alleyway but there was no one.

His friend had gone. He ran to the spot where he had last seen him and stood back. Scrawled on the wall were some words. ‘El periclor esta cerca.’ ‘Danger is near.’

He leaned out over the ledge and could see the mangled body being washed repeatedly against the rocks below. Its was face up and he could just make out the scratch marks that had ripped out his eyes.

He turned just as it attacked. All he saw was a black shape and then it was scratching, clawing, shrieking. It tore at his face, ripping and tearing. He could feel the flesh coming away.

He staggered back trying to protect himself but its force was so strong and it was determined to push him out over the ledge. He slipped back just managing to hold on but his strength was failing and the creature was growing stronger and stronger.

It started to metamorphise in front of him with its small , narrow face becoming almost human. He looked into its eyes and all he saw was a reflection of himself on fire with his skin melting away in one gigantic inferno. He screamed out, jerking his head backwards and releasing the crucifix around his neck. It caught the creature and wrapped itself around its claws.

It stopped suddenly, let out an enormous shriek and turned, trying to dislodge the cross. He hauled himself up and tried to give chase but he was too exhausted and collapsed on the floor. He could see it disappearing and felt inside his cloak for the book. He opened the page and chanted the words.

The creature stopped in its tracks and turned. It rose on its hind legs and came towards him, it’s tail lashing from side to side. Its head grew larger and larger and he could make out the distinctive horns protruding from it’s skull. It shreiked and laughed as it came towards him.

He clutched the book and chanted the phrase, over and over again. But it had no effect and on it came with its hideous smell growing in intensity. He shouted louder and louder, then in desperation, hurled the book at the creature. It spun in the air and connected with its eyes. It staggered, tried to flee, supporting itself against the ledge. It fell forward, its claws scratching against the wall as it smashed to the ground. It erupted into flames that shot up above the buildings before settling into a small mound of black ashes.

He knelt down and prayed. ‘Thank you Oh Lord, it is done. The devil’s work will be no more.’

He turned and walked away, leaving the alleyway behind. He descended into the town and sought out the monastery.

A sudden gust of wind filled the alleyway, catching the ashes and spinning them upwards into a huge arc. They settled on top of one of the buildings.

A black shape suddenly appeared. A small cat, purring and licking the congealed blood from its fur.